It has been just over a week since Ironman Los Cabos. The soreness is gone. Truthfully, it was gone last week as I didn’t end up running much of the marathon (more on that below). And, I have had plenty of time to ruminate on the outcome of my second attempt at this distance. It is likely pretty clear from my 11:42 finish time that things didn’t exactly go as planned. But the beauty of even a bad race day is that there are lessons to be learned and pieces of wisdom to take onto the next attempt. So with that, here are my biggest takeaways from Mexico. These are by no means excuses, as I promise you I am not trying to make any of those:
Pay more attention to race week nutrition
Being that we were in Mexico, and that there was a plethora of wonderful fresh fish and guacamole, among other things, I was not as mindful as I likely should have been in the days leading up to the race. I opted to eat ceviche and avocado instead of the carbs I took in pre-CDA and I think this left me a bit of a hole come Sunday.
Thoroughly scout out mass swim start locations for better positioning
Ironman Los Cabos was my first experience with a mass swim start. It wasn’t nearly as rough as I was expecting, likely due to the smaller race size, but one thing I did not do well was pick a good line. What I did do, was line up on the front, right in the middle of the pack. Not a smart choice. I spent most of the distance to the first turn buoy with my head out of the water looking for a clear place to swim. I missed the front pack and ended up swimming pretty much
Everyone is hurting and you are stronger than you think you are
The advertised “faster” bike course wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be, at least not in my opinion. Constant cross winds, some sketchy pavement (that at one point tossed my aero bottle into the road for me to stop and retrieve) and about the same amount of climbing as the “hilly” CDA course made for a longer than anticipated day. By loop two, I had been passed by three or four women and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Naturally, I proceed to chat up a woman as I passed her up one of the many climbs. We had been leap frogging for a while and I made a comment about how this was supposed to be a fast course. She laughed and agreed, but then reminded me that we were still having a pretty good day and there were only 8 or so women in front of us. I owe that woman the rest of my bike ride. Her comment made me turn my attitude completely around. I put my head down, rode my race and managed to pass back two of the women who had come around me. One of the moments of the day I am still proud of.
Adjust race day nutrition plan to account for ALL possibilities
Big sigh. My near perfect Ironman Coeur d’Alene nutrition did not exactly translate to the heat of Los Cabos, but probably not in the way you are thinking. What I did not prepare for, was what would happen to my beautiful little bag of Bonk Breaker pieces coated in flour as I poured a bottle of water all over my back, and into that little bag, at every aid station. About half way into the bike, I realized what I was now carrying around was a bag of wet-inedible Bonk Breaker mush. Yes, I had packed special needs, but the only thing in there was more OSMO and a sleeve of Clif Shot Blocks. Not enough to carry me through the remaining three hours of ride time and into a marathon.
This sport is full of amazing people
I got through one loop of the run before my lack of calories came knocking and my legs threatened to seize completely. At that point all I could do was run until the feeling came back and then walk until it subsided. Incredibly frustrating, but also incredibly humbling. Even while crushing their races in the professional field, Haley and Alyssa offered much-needed words of encouragement as did so many others. It is pretty awesome to have girls you are racing against take the energy to reach out. The support of the people both on and along the course in Mexico was so wonderful, even as my day was unraveling. I couldn’t help but smile at their cheers and be grateful to be in the mix.
I will take all these lessons with me into the rest of the season and up to Whistler for Ironman Canada. Third time is a charm, right?